Sunday, April 27, 2014

Nuke Test Victims Sue USA

In April-May 2015, the 9th Review Conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will meet in New York City to discuss global progress toward nuclear disarmament. Previous Review Conferences, which have occurred once every five years since the Treaty's inception in 1968, have sometimes been contentious.

Among the issues for the next Review Conference to consider, will be the problems created by the continued existence of the N-Korean nuclear weapons program and by Iran's push toward a nuclear weapons capability, as well as by the growing Indian, Pakistani, and Israeli nuclear weapons programs. All of these five nuclear weapons programs currently exist outside the NPT regime.

Within the NPT regime itself, questions of the commitment of the advanced nuclear weapons states (United States, China, Russia, United Kingdom, and France) to the abolition of their own nuclear weapons arsenals and programs will surely arise again.

The economic costs of all the world's nuclear weapons programs, existing since ~1943 and continuing to exist today, have been estimated to be of the order of several trillion dollars. The cost in human lives has been estimated to be >200,000.

The costs in $ and human lives of a future all-out nuclear war are not predictable with any confidence, but are sure to pale the costs in $ and human lives of the destruction and death wrought by WW II.


Former U.S. test site sues nuclear nations for disarmament failure / (reprinted from Reuters)

The tiny Pacific republic of the Marshall Islands, scene of massive U.S. nuclear tests in the 1950s, sued the United States and eight other nuclear-armed nations on Thursday, accusing them of failing in their obligation to negotiate nuclear disarmament.

The Pacific country accused all nine nuclear-armed states of "flagrant violation of international law" for failing to pursue the negotiations required by the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

It filed one suit specifically directed against the United States, in the Federal District Court in San Francisco, while others against all nine countries were lodged at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, capital of the Netherlands, a statement from an anti-nuclear group backing the suits said.

The action was supported by South African Nobel Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation said.

"The failure of these nuclear-armed countries to uphold important commitments and respect the law makes the world a more dangerous place," its statement quoted Tutu as saying."We must ask why these leaders continue to break their promises and put their citizens and the world at risk of horrific devastation. This is one of the most fundamental moral and legal questions of our time."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki declined to comment on the suits.

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is a U.S.-based non-partisan advocacy group working with the Marshall Islands and its international pro-bono legal team.

The Marshall Islands, a group of 31 atolls, was occupied by Allied forces in 1944 and put under U.S. administration in 1947.

Between 1946 and 1958, the United States conducted repeated tests of hydrogen and atomic bombs in the islands.

Bikini Atoll Blast /

One, on March 1, 1954, was the largest U.S. nuclear test, code-named Bravo. It involved the detonation of a 15-megaton hydrogen bomb on Bikini Atoll, producing an intense fireball followed by a 20-mile-high mushroom cloud and widespread radioactive fallout. The Marshallese government says the blast was 1,000 times more powerful than that at Hiroshima.

The lawsuits state that Article VI of the NPT requires states to negotiate "in good faith" on nuclear disarmament.

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation said the five original nuclear weapons states - The United States, Russia, Britain, France and China - were all parties to the NPT, while the others - Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea - were "bound by these nuclear disarmament provisions under customary international law."

A copy of the suit against the United States made available to Reuters says that it is not aimed at seeking compensation from the United States for the testing in the Marshall Islands, which became an independent republic in 1986.

Under agreements between the United States and the Marshall Islands, a Nuclear Claims Tribunal was established to assess and award damages to victims of the nuclear tests. But it has never had the cash to compensate fully for the damage done.

The suit against the United States said it should take "all steps necessary to comply with its obligations ... within one year of the date of this Judgment, including by calling for and convening negotiations for nuclear disarmament in all its aspects. Our people have suffered the catastrophic and irreparable damage of these weapons, and we vow to fight so that no one else on earth will ever again experience these atrocities," the statement quoted Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum as saying.

"The continued existence of nuclear weapons and the terrible risk they pose to the world threaten us all."

(Reuters - Washington, DC, Thu Apr 24, 2014 - reported by David Brunnstrom; edited by Dan Grebler)

(reprinted from ) /

In 1955, the United States paid $2,000,000 as restitution for damage to the Lucky Dragon, its 23 crew members and its cargo.

And in 1988, the Marshall Islands Nuclear Claims Tribunal was established to grant compensation to Marshall Islanders for personal injury deemed to have been caused by nuclear testing. As of December 31, 1997, $63,127,000 had been awarded to or on behalf of 1,549 people. With more personal injury claims and several class action suits for property damage still pending, the Tribunal claims that the original terms of the settlement with the Marshall Islanders are grossly inadequate.

The Castle Bravo H-Bomb Test

The On March 1, 1954 the United States tested an H-bomb design on Bikini Atoll that unexpectedly turned out to be the largest U.S. nuclear test ever exploded. By missing an important fusion reaction, the Los Alamos scientists had grossly underestimated the size of the explosion. They thought it would yield the equivalent of 5 million tons of TNT, but, in fact, "Bravo" yielded 15 megatons -- making it more than a thousand times bigger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

The blast gouged a crater about a mile wide in the reef. Within seconds the fireball was nearly three miles in diameter. The illumination from the blast was visible for almost one minute on Rongerik, an island 135 miles east of the burst. It trapped personnel in experiment bunkers and engulfed the 7,500 foot diagnostic pipe array. Physicist Marshall Rosenbluth was on a ship about 30 miles away. He remembers that the fireball, "just kept rising and rising, and spreading... It looked to me like what you might imagine a diseased brain, or a brain of some mad man would look like on the surface... And the air started getting filled with this gray stuff, which I guess was radioactive coral."

An hour-and-a-half later a similar gritty, snow-like substance began raining down on a Japanese fishing vessel called the Lucky Dragon that was about 80 miles east of Bikini. The 23 fishermen aboard had no idea the ash was fallout from a hydrogen bomb test. When they returned to port two weeks later they were all suffering severe radiation sickness. The radio operator later died. One Tokyo newspaper headline demanded that the U.S. authorities "Tell us the truth about the ashes of death."

Marshall Islanders were also exposed to the fallout. One islander on Rongelap about 100 miles east of Bikini remembers hearing, "a loud explosion and within minutes the ground began to shake. A few hours later the radioactive fallout began to drop on the people, into the drinking water, and on the food. The children played in the colorful ash-like powder. They did not know what it was."

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